Sky at a Glance 2022 July 2 – 9

Photo showing location of the constellation Scutum the Shield.

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, 2022 July 2 – 9 ~by Curt Nason

Sagittarius is an old constellation of a centaur with a bow and arrow aiming toward Scorpius the Scorpion. If he tries to shoot Aquila the Eagle above, chances are the arrow will be deflected by a shield.

Scutum the Shield is a relatively new constellation, created by the Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius in the late 17th century. It commemorates the Polish king John Sobieski III, who defended his country against the Turks. Originally named Scutum Sobiescianum (Sobieski’s Shield) it is generally just called the Shield. Seeing it can be difficult, for its main stars are dim and shielded within the Milky Way. One way to locate it is to find its most prominent deep sky object, the Wild Duck Cluster or M11.

Find the bright star Altair in the head of Aquila and then identify the wings and tail of the eagle. Binoculars will reveal a string of stars leading from the tail to M11 at the top of the shield. The rich Wild Duck Cluster looks good in binoculars and great in a scope, and an imaginative observer can see a V-shape or maybe two. Star cluster M26 is also in Scutum, a binocular width south of M11.

This Week in the Solar System

Saturday’s sunrise in Moncton is at 5:32 am and sunset will occur at 9:13 pm, giving 15 hours, 41 minutes of daylight (5:40 am and 9:15 pm in Saint John). Next Saturday the Sun will rise at 5:37 am and set at 9:10 pm, giving 15 hours, 33 minutes of daylight (5:45 am and 9:12 pm in Saint John). Early Monday morning Earth will be at aphelion, its greatest distance from the Sun for the year, at 152,098,455 km. That’s about five million kilometres farther than it was in early January.

The Moon is at first quarter on Wednesday, providing great views in a telescope or binoculars all week. By midweek Saturn will be rising around 11 pm, followed by Jupiter at 12:40 am, Mars at 1:30 and Venus at 3:45. Mercury is speeding out of sight, passing behind the Sun by midmonth.

On Sunday evening at 8 pm, tune in to the Sunday Night Astronomy Show via the Facebook page or YouTube channel of Astronomy by the Bay.

Questions? Contact Curt Nason.

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